Group is still providing a R.O.A.R.(ing) good time

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 2, 2003

Since 1972, R.O.A.R. (Recreational Opportunity Access and Resources), a non-profit organization, has been a familiar name in Mower County. It has been a quiet organization from its inception. Its goal is to provide social gatherings for Cedar Valley Clientele and it has a co-sponsorship with ARC (Association of Retarded Citizens).

R.O.A.R. began and still is a grassroots organization that provides parties and outings for the mentally challenged. Lavonne Elmer, a member almost from the beginning, became involved when Tom Flanagan, the director at the time, came and spoke at her church. He was seeking out support for more people to help with R.O.A.R.

"When it first began, we took clients swimming and bowling. We drove them in our own cars. We can't do that anymore. We used to have more publicity when we first started, but now we can't have photos taken of many of the clients. We have to protect their privacy," Elmer said.

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The current president of R.O.A.R. is Jackie Brennan. She became involved because she was looking 15 years ago for an organization to do volunteer work with.

"Once you become involved with this group, you get hooked," said Brennan.

The organization is low-key and informal. They have monthly meetings and plan upcoming activities. The group sends flowers to clients when they are ill. They have several dances during the year. Recently, they had their Spring Fling and pizza party at the Mower County Senior Center. The place was wall to wall with people dancing to music provided by Tom Bridges of Sound Tronics.

"Tom Bridges has been with us along time. He knows what kind of music the group likes here," said Elmer.

Other activities that this group strives to provide each year are a Thanksgiving meal, St. Patrick’s Day lunch, Christmas gifts and root beer float parties in June, July and August. All these activities cost money and all donations go toward these activities.

"We write letters each year asking for donations. We have a budget that we work with to do all the activities. It is expensive to keep all these activities going. We are always looking for more people to become involved," Elmer said.

Karen Baiers, the Cedar Valley representative, says that the parties and activities mean a lot to the clients and they talk about them throughout the year. If you are interested in helping R.O.A.R with a monetary donation or your time, contact Cedar Valley Services at 2111 4th St. NW.